Saturday, December 08, 2007

Did Adam and Eve have a belly button?


This is one of those questions that Bible artists hear a lot. When I first illustrated Adam & Eve many years ago, I have to admit, I hadn't really thought about it, and, like Rubens, (see picture), I did illustrate them with navels!

Looking at it logically, the navel is a type of scar left after childbirth. It was where the umbilical cord, that connected the fetus to the placenta, was attached in the womb. So, as Adam & Eve were not born but created, it makes sense that they wouldn't have a belly button.
Is the answer to this question that simple?

Nate Butler, president of 'Christian Comics International' on a recent trip to Japan had a discussion with some manga artists about how we should depict Adam & Eve in a 100% genetically correct way. I will ask Nate if he will share some of his thoughts in an article for the blog.

I would be interested in any other views on this subject.

28 comments:

Paul G said...

Based on logic and common sense I would have to guess Adam and Eve didn't possess navels as they weren't born from a mother's womb. But to a child this may look weird and scary in an illustration. As with depictions of the crucifixion it may be a case of drawing to a child's expectations to avoid emotional confusion.

Paul G said...

I do think any Bible illustrator musn't get too caught up in the details that to be honest are irrelevant to the story. The original author of Genesis didn't see any necessity in mentioning navels (or lack of) in their account because it didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. No good writer or artist becomes obsessed with detail that detracts from the main point of a story. You might as well ask, "What colour eyes did Adam and Eve have?"
It doesn't matter and what's more to the point there is know way of ever finding out.

Bible artist said...

Good point Paul.
I only mention this because I get asked a lot about this point. It's like a pet subject with certain critics of Bible artists! (Another one is what the Ark looks like). Although these might seem like trivial questions, you'd be surprised how much study people put into them.

I noticed that some Bible artists obscure the navel area in the same way that we would cover Adam & Eves private parts, either with a bent knee or strategically placed branch. This at least keeps everyone happy.

Paul G said...

These critics of Bible artists remind me of "Star Trek" geeks who question every aspect of the show. William Shatner's response to such fans was, "Get a life!"
People who put years of study into Biblical questions that have no answer are the equivalent of a dog chasing its own tail. It's as much an exercise in ego as it is in futility.
Best that they study the meaning of the Biblical text before them than attempt to fill in the gaps with material that was never deemed important enough to be included in the first place.
How tall were Adam and Eve? What colour was their hair? Was Adam hairy or smooth skinned? Was Eve slim or chubby? Was Adam muscular or skinny?
Just be truthful and say, "I have no idea. I wasn't around at the time." That should make them realize how stupid these questions are.

Nikolaj said...

Yeah, I've got to agree with Paul g, although I've heard people argue about it having to do with inherital sin, and that in such a way Christ would either have had inherital sin through that bellybutton or no bellybutton at all.

But it really is a folly, because Ezechiƫl 18 speacks about how God sees inherital sin, and that doesn't fit that at all.

:)

Bible artist said...

I get visitors to the blog, (almost on a daily basis), that have been directed here by Google having asked the question "How old were Jesus' disciples?"

I did a post on this subject some time ago, not realizing just how many people ask this question! I can understand Bible artists enquiring about this, but why all the interest in this particular subject?

Nikolaj said...

Well, I think it's a lot more relevant then bellybuttons.

It means you don't need to be smart, nor wise by age, nor learned nor old or 'adult'.

It's got a bit more meaning then having a bellybutton. It means people can connect to it and to themselves, to the youthgroups, to friends etcetera.

Bible artist said...

O.K. guys you win!!

I still think it was an interesting question!
:0)

Nikolaj said...

hahah, LOL

I'm sorry, didn't mean to offend you or anything (far from it).

And it is interresting, in an intellectual way ;)

Bible artist said...

Thanks Nikolaj!
:0)

horseman said...

Paul g is right, but I think it is still a fun question. It cannot always be about historical or theological things. On the subject of Adam and Eve, I have always found it odd that artists depict Adam clean shaven - as if God made man and then changed His mind about the beard and so gave man a razor. And I am certain that this twisted notion of shaving came about BECAUSE/AFTER the Fall.

Paul G said...

The lack of a beard is a good point horseman. I guess the artists were pandering to the European elite and churches who commissioned the artwork. Adam is nearly always depicted as a white, clean cut European with little body hair. Amazing how he cut his hair and shaved his beard with no barber in sight.
The same with Eve. A typical European female who looks slighly plump for our modern day tastes. But back in Rennaissance times the ideal of female beauty included a little extra weight.
The bottom line is artists have created Adam and Eve in their own image. It's all culture related and has nothing to do with any reality. Hopefully modern day artists can escape the stereotypes.

Bible artist said...

I've just had another thought about the original 'belly button' question, (sorry guys!)

In Genesis 1:11-12, it mentions twice that plants were created "whose seed is in itself". This could suggest that the plant was created fully grown, (which also suggests that the chicken came before the egg!) These fully grown plants and trees would fully represent the plants and trees that would follow 'after their kind'.

So, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that Adam and Eve may have been created with a 'token' belly button that served no other purpose than to fully(physically) represent all the humans that would follow.

Some of you will be pleased to know that that was my final thought on belly buttons-!!
;0)

Paul G said...

Following this logic Graham the seed of Adam and Eve was the reproductive organs. No relation to the belly button.
It really doesn't matter. Draw them with belly buttons so they don't scare the kids! :)

Paul G said...

All I know for certain is Barbara Eden in "I Dream Of Jeannie" didn't have a belly button. Hey! Eden = no belly button!! Maybe the producers of that show were trying to tell us something. :))

Bible artist said...

I knew there was something in it!

Bible artist said...

Sorry Paul, I didn't make my point very clear.
What I was trying to say was that the fully created original was to be an exact copy of the seed that was within it. Therefore, couldn't Adam and Eve have been created to look just like every human that would follow? (complete with navel?)

Paul G said...

The logical answer is yes Graham.

Bible artist said...

Phew!
:0)

Chris Heidt said...

No belly button, because the belly button is made through the cutting away of tissue and then its tying off; it's scar tissue. The cutaway tissue is discarded and dies. Until the fall, death had no claim upon man. No knife had been used on another living thing until sin came into the picture, and God himself slew an animal, shedding the blood(the life) to provide them with skins. They'd never seen blood spilled before sin, ever. Adam probably had never used any tool or even seen a tool before the fall. The curse included Adam having to "work" the ground by the sweat of his brow (which would necessitate tools). As far as the first natural birth, Adam would have had to use a knife for cutting away the umbilical cord. Perhaps he made that knife himself. I think the first birth must have been a pretty traumatic experience for both of them.

Bible artist said...

Some good points there Chris, thanks.
I think I'll start placing leafs over the belly button, just to play it safe!!!

Tim said...

@paul g
side trivia: Barbara Eden ("I Dream of Jeannie") was required to have her naval covered in every episode due to TV censorship rules at the time.
-----
When I had to illustrate Adam & Eve (children's Bible lesson), I used my wife for the Eve reference photos. I found this helpful because I asked myself, would I be embarrassed if people knew it was my wife in the illustration. If the answer was "yes", I knew I needed to cover her up a bit more. ;-)

I knew the day would come when I'd have to illustrate Adam & Eve in the garden. I wanted to give Adam a beard (to challenge preconceived ideas), not have their skin look to light, dark hair, and definitely have the serpent standing erect! Hmmmm....The belly button question never entered my mind. :-)

For the record, If the belly was seen I would definitely include the naval.

Bible artist said...

I loved the 'I Dream of Jeannie' series, and I never noticed that you didn't see her naval! Which means that no one would probably notice if we did or didn't include navals on Adam & Eve.

That's a good point you make about your wife modeling Tim. You're not the first to use his wife as a model. Horseman used his wife to model for Satan! (brave man).
Has anyone else used their wife or family members as a Bible model?

Can I link to any of your Bible art on the web Tim? Hope we hear more from you again.

Tim said...

That was my first post! I just got the link from Jem (your co-worker) this morning, who is attending our literature/multimedia "summit" in Switzerland. You may not have made the connection but I'm that artist with CEF (Europe) and we are hoping to make use of your talents. :-)

FYI...After 21 yrs., I was planning to step down from doing our larger Bible lesson illustration projects (30-40 large illustrations for a lesson) to focus on smaller illustration and design projects in our ministry. You were the answer to a 21 yr. prayer request I had. :-) When I first saw your artwork for consideration, I simply said "Don't let him get away!" and was almost in tears.

This is an amazing blog and resources! I feel like a boy in a candy store.
--------
link to my (recently started) ministry blog:
http://illustratedword-cef.blogspot.com/

Not much there ...yet. Completed art projects are on our main family website (link on the blog).

cdz said...

I use friends and relatives as models as often as they are willing to pose. I use props as well (weapons, scrolls etc.) It makes my stuff look more realistic, especially when I am trying to establish a light source.

Bible artist said...

Wow, Tim! Great to hear from you!
30-40 illustrations per lesson-!! Yikes! That's scarey! Don't tell Jem, he might want me to start doing 30-40 pictures per story too!! Ha ha.

You must have done hundreds, if not thousands, of Bible pictures over the years! CEF is doing an amazing job worldwide, it must have been a great thrill for you to know that your pictures are being used to lead many children to the Saviour around the globe. I was really pleased when Jem made the contact with CEF.

I need to do a 'Bible artist interview' with you for the blog Tim! Thanks so much for the kind comments. I'm going to add your blog right now!

Bible artist said...

Hi CDZ
Thanks for the comment!
I like your design work and will add a link to your site from the 'Christian artists' section of the blog.

cdz said...

Wow, I'm very honored. And God bless you.